Virtual Events 101: Tips For Creating Your Virtual Event Survey

May 16, 2010

Satisfaction surveys are a key tool in a virtual event planner’s arsenal.  Among their many benefits, a virtual event survey can serve to:

  1. Gain valuable feedback to improve the experience for subsequent virtual events
  2. Gain data, insights and comments that can be leveraged for public relations and future sales/sponsorship opportunities
  3. Establish a baseline of metrics that can be used to gauge your virtual event on an ongoing basis (e.g. overall event ratings, speaker satisfaction ratings)

Here are some tips to consider when creating your event’s satisfaction survey.

Determine what’s important to you

Identify the key components of the virtual event experience – those elements that are most important to you.  Then, incorporate survey questions around those components.  Samples include:

  1. Content
  2. Sessions
  3. Navigation
  4. Exhibitors
  5. Event duration
  6. Event time (i.e. time of day)
  7. Helpfulness of online event staff

Don’t wait until after the event!

During the planning process, you should be defining overall objectives for your virtual event.  Craft your survey questions during the planning process – the survey, then, becomes one means by which you evaluate whether the event met your defined objectives.  Sending a follow-up email (with the survey) after the event is fine – but, be sure to make the survey available within the event experience – either via a built-in feature of the virtual event platform, or by incorporating a third party survey, such as SurveyMonkey or Zoomerang.

Without being intrusive, make the survey “hard to miss” from within the virtual event experience – consider placing links to the survey in the event’s main navigation and in banner ads, your Help Booth and Auditorium.  If the virtual event platform supports it, schedule a periodic “notification pop-up” to inform attendees of the existence of the survey.

Stay true to your survey goals

Remember that a survey is about collecting input and not about qualifying leads and prospects.  Avoid asking qualifying questions in the survey (e.g. “Would you like a sales representative to contact you about ..”) and stick to the goal of understanding the attendee’s overall experience. A survey that’s disguised as a qualifying form will turn off potential submitters – and you’ll likely end up with fewer completions than you had planned.

Similarly, determine whether you want to request “attributes” from survey submitters (industry, country, email address, etc.) or allow submitters to be completely anonymous.  Submitter attributes allow you to segment the survey responses by “qualifier” (e.g. event ratings by industry), while an “anonymous survey” may yield more submissions.

Easy to complete

Place a reasonable limit on the number of survey questions and the number of survey pages.  I’d recommend no more than 10 questions and no more than 2 survey pages (e.g. a limit of 2 survey pages with 5 questions on each page).  Pay attention to the question wording – don’t write an essay on the question or in the multiple choice selections.

Use a combination of quantitative measures (e.g. a rating from 1 to 5) so that you can track particular metrics over time – and qualitative input, such as a free-form text box that invites submitters to leave feedback in the form of a comment.  Try to estimate the amount of time required to complete the full survey and provide that up front to survey takers (e.g. “Spend five minutes – provide us with valuable feedback to improve the event experience for you”).

Include an incentive

Incent survey respondents by offering some value in return.  You could provide a small offer to all submitters (perhaps a $5 gift card) – or, offer a larger prize that’s awarded by random drawing.  Consider the trade-off with an incentive – while you’ll generate more survey submissions, the integrity or quality of the survey data may be slightly compromised, as some users will quickly complete the survey (via random selections) simply to qualify for the prize.

Define your action and response plan up front

A survey serves you limited purpose if you don’t follow up and respond to the collected feedback.  When creating the survey questions, determine the actions that will be taken based on the responses.  For instance, for quantitative measures, define your targets (e.g. an average satisfaction rating of 4.0 [on a scale of 1.0 – 5.0]).  If you score lower than your target, drill down to determine why and apply those learnings to your next event.

If your attendees rated your event low on navigation, determine whether that was the “fault” of the event platform, your own experience design or both.  For attendee feedback focused on the platform, hold a meeting with your virtual event platform provider to discuss further – they’ll appreciate the input and may already have plans (in the product pipeline) to address the concerns.


Surveys can be effective tools for virtual events – be sure to align your survey questions to your overall goals, make it easy and convenient for event attendees to complete it and properly follow up on the feedback delivered.  Keep using surveys for subsequent events, so that they get better and better (and better).

Related Links

  1. Browse the Virtual Events 101 Index Page
  2. Download the eBook, “Virtual Events: Ready, Set, Go

Note: I invite you to connect with me on .

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